Thoughts on camera software

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by enzodiac, Aug 11, 2013.

  1. enzodiac

    enzodiac Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 7, 2012
    Andreas Fougner
    Sooo I have thought about this for a long time and I am probably not alone doing it.

    I feel that camera manufacturers (excepts Samsung) are several years behind other technical gadgets when it comes to software.

    Every single camera maker uses their own, pardon my french, ****ty software. It might be optimized etc, but why on earth can't they upgrade their cameras with new features and proper firmware updates?

    We have android now which have shown that open source is an awesome thing.

    Why doesn't the camera world have anything like android yet? Samsung is doing this and I think it is an awesome thing.

    If the camera makers can't get their asses off and provide us with apps and new features then we could do it ourselves if given the tools.

    But I guess they are afraid that nobody would buy new cameras then. Since nowadays the hardware is so good, people are practically buying new camera to get the latest software. I know I am.

    Imagine if we could make our own focus peaking, HDR bracketing, Time lapse, art filters etc etc etc.
  2. rparmar

    rparmar Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 14, 2011
    Limerick, Ireland
    I'm sure you're totally right. At one time it might have been too much to expect cameras to run a standard operating system. But now, smart phones show that it is possible. Of course, it would take a lot more work for today's cameras to be made general-purpose enough to support something like Android.

    This message was voice dictated onto my Android smartphone using the dedicated app for this website. This was not possible even a couple of years ago.
  3. woof

    woof Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 18, 2011
    The present.
    I would argue that Samsung is doing this merely because they already have the tooling and expertise and this is a bid to provide cost leadership. In truth and in fact, since no-one else is doing it, it is also a differentiator for them as well. Kind of a lot of bang for their buck.

    I would contend that the other manufacturers, lacking the tooling and finding themselves increasingly under pressure by the P&S segment that has gone to phones are in a bit of a bind - the cost of dropping their SW in favor of an open source derivitive means that they would have to significnatly retool and reprogram and it would be a de-differentiator for them. Since there is huge market pressure at the cost level currently, they would have difficulty transitioning... anyone who attempts this will either have to absorb the cost of changing over or ask the consumer for more initially... something no-one wants to do in this climate. So, all they really have left, other than market segmentation (which thanks to phones is already in play and narrowing their focus), is differentiation. In short, they have no incentive whatsoever to make their cameras like everyone else's.

    If they ever put Android on board, people would look at it and say... "great... but my phone does much more." If they then tried to do much more, people whould say "I don't like the shape. Who wants to talk (check email, do facebook) on a camera?" At which point they'd flatten it out and it would be .. perfect... a tablet.

  4. battleaxe

    battleaxe Mu-43 Top Veteran

    I can't fully agree with this as Sony also has some presence when it comes to Android phones and tablets. Even Panasonic makes Android devices, though most of them are only available in Asia, and maybe Europe and Australia. Most of the tablets are Toughbook related(ie military spec and expensive). I think they could easily make NEX and/or m4/3 cameras with Android, maybe not at the same production rate, or cost as Samsung, but point is they could.
  5. RickinAust

    RickinAust Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 9, 2013
    Errr you do realise that Andriod started life as camera software before being bought by Google. It's a bit like all manufacturers, they all put their own style into a product, for example TV's all of them operate differently, so they can differentiate themselves in a market by having features other manufacturers don't have or make them more prominent so they are easier to use.
  6. Ian.

    Ian. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2013
    I'm sure going over to Android created a whole load of headaches for a camera manufacturer.

    It would be a great way for us to get around Olympus's screwed up usability. I'd want a custom SCP to put Mysets, bracketing and anything else I fancy on.

    People have been tweaking Canon cameras with CHDK for years.
  7. Henk

    Henk Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 18, 2010
    the Netherlands
    I don't want apps on my camera, I hate to have art filters on my cameras because I never use them yet have to pay for them.:frown:

    Give me useful functions like time-lapse recording and automatic shooting at hyperfocal distance.

    There's already a camera loaded with apps, called i-phone. -end of rant-
  8. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Fuji & Sony have... :smile:
  9. Ian.

    Ian. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2013
    I'm sure we can wait for years and still not get the things we want. It is true of all cameras. Which is where getting a camera and adding one app that we need has huge benefits. Dont panic, you wont be forced to install Angry Four Thirds.
  10. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    iOS and Android are general purpose Operating Systems running on powerful yet still general purpose handheld computers.

    The closest you are going to get the the image processing chips in Cameras are graphics chips that drive computer displays. And we need to put this in perspective.

    A big display on a desktop is 2560x1440 and it typically has a large and expensive and hot chip + supporting chips dedicated to it. A 16MP camera like the OM-D has 4608x3456 pixels and the image processing chips have to process these images in pretty close to real time and buffer them and push them to a card in a small enclosure with only a small battery. The software that manages the settings is really an afterthought.

    While convergence is possible I don't see the dedicated image chips vanishing just yet.
  11. rparmar

    rparmar Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 14, 2011
    Limerick, Ireland
    If the OS was standardised and open then you'd get those features a lot sooner. That's the whole point.


    Exactly the same core image processing would remain. The open OS part would "simply" be added on, with a suitable API. In fact, I am sure that is exactly how cameras work now, but without the standardised programming interface that results in the "win" we are looking for.

    I find it amazing how conservative people are being in this thread. A short time ago you could have said much the same about phones. They will never support a general OS. They are too small or dedicated in function to see any benefit. Now they are general purpose mobile computers. And at least some of their functionality is useful.
  12. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    The processor in each camera brand is unique. This would require another general purpose chip in the camera with attendant heat and battery drain, or the porting of a one of these OSes to the various camera processors. And each "app" would have to be ported to each camera chipset. Current phones OSes have a reasonably hefty resource overhead. I don't see the driver for this currently. It may well happen, but it won't happen tomorrow.

    And there were several Open OSes prior to the current market leaders of iOS and Android. The Symbian OS ran on a lot of phones.
  13. arch stanton

    arch stanton Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 25, 2012
    This *is* happening tomorrow:
    First Pictures of Sony's Groundbreaking Lens Cameras Surface

    The number of smartphones sold *vastly* outweighs the number of interchangable lens cameras. With the P&S market dying Sony can see these add-ons giving a quantum leap in capability to a smartphone camera just by re-parceling the RX100 and using the phone battery/storage.

    Now I'm on your side, current phone cameras drive me *nuts* - there's a reason I take a real camera round with me. But the market will resolve the speed/control issue eventually.
  14. Wasabi Bob

    Wasabi Bob Mu-43 All-Pro

    1. Adding Android (to a dedicated camera) = extra licensing costs. In a market where dealers decide what cameras to carry based on price, added cost could exclude many cameras.

    2. Point and shoot cameras are rapidly being replaced by smart phones. Many phones are Android based, so the licensing cost was already factored into the product's development cost. And, let's not forget that phones are largely subsidized by the cellular companies.

    3. From a service standpoint, "open source" can be a nightmare. Imagine the increase in service activity that could result when the customer assumes his camera is malfunctioning, and it's determined to be a bug in an app.

    Samsung is able to pull this off because they are already in both the cell phone and camera business. I agree, it would be nice, but given the shrinking profit margins it's not likely to happen so easily.
  15. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada

    BTW this is not what the OP is suggesting. This is a lens and image processor and maybe bluetooth or wifi + a full phone with its own processor.
  16. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    At the moment, I don't see any economic reason for Olympus or Panasonic making their firmware/software open source. It also means that the user could possibly brick a device, and I don't think Panasonic or Olympus want that headache.
  17. wanderenvy

    wanderenvy Mu-43 Regular

    May 11, 2012
    All of the technical reasons stated as to why it cannot happen are pure balderdash.

    The technology exists to make it happen YESTERDAY. (low power and low cost processors/SOCs, free operating systems with no licensing constraints and tools). Proprietary stuff can be abstracted out through proper interfaces to enable portable apps, so that's not a barrier either.

    There are two simple reasons why it hasn't happened. Corporate inertia and fear. Inertia to change from existing practices and code bases. Fear that an open system will open up too many details, help the competition and create IP liability issues.

    In my opinion, most of the camera companies do not get software. They are notoriously conservative and their entire business model runs on selling new hardware. In their view, software adds cost and does not bring revenue. They haven't figured out how to turn it into an opportunity.

    Hardware cycles mean that you only have something non-incrementally different every 1.5 to 2 years. Software upgrades and extensions can provide interim revenue.

    The ******* feature (not imaging related) for all photography vendors in the past year has been wifi. I am quietly hoping that open interfaces for controlling the cameras will be next. Any apps don't have to run on camera, a smartphone works too.
  18. wanderenvy

    wanderenvy Mu-43 Regular

    May 11, 2012
    Not sure why the word "m a r q u e e" got converted to ****** :)
  19. Ian.

    Ian. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2013
    M**quee is the codename of the NSA covert surveillance of Micro Four Thirds sites. That's all. There's nothing to worry about. Move along now.
  20. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Heh. This is not what I said.

    Of course there is no technical barrier. Just time and money, and the operating constraints in the device. Embedded is a different space. Resources are constrained. Also, most device users (not phones) I might add expect them to work - all the time. Phones where apps crash or fail, or need to be re-installed or calls that fail, or calls that won't complete or.....

    When we push the shutter button we expect a correctly (within the limits of the exposure controls) exposed file on the card of the camera, every time. This is not the current reality in smart phones. And we expect it in near real time. Not sometime later, maybe.

    Embedded software/hardware engineers are conservative, for generally good reason. Any VAG driver will see where this can go horribly wrong.